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More Secrecy At Whitianga

Those of us who have experienced at first hand the secrecy surrounding the development of the Mercury Bay Sports Ground using Whitianga Waterways land - the Deed remains secret to this day, will have been dismayed at aspects of today's Press Release in regard to the proposed Medical Centre.

All we know is that in the end, it cost our Council in excess of $8m - well over budget, to complete the Sport's Ground project as the result of incompetence, misrepresentation, and ambition for facilities well beyond the foreseeable needs of the town.

Nothing as been done to allay the continuing concerns of rate-payers other than the undertaking of vastly expensive remediation works on the grounds that would have never been required if the fill used had been of the required quality.

Now we have the announcement of a new "secret" agreement with Whitianga Waterways that again cannot be released to the public until it has been "signed off" by Council on 29 June.

"Council will need to sign off on the agreement at its next meeting and the document will then be made publicly available."

Mayor Leach is again effusive in his praise for Whitianga Waterways in the today's Press Release for making the land available. But no one I know who knows anything about the history and current practices of the Hopper's, are aware of any occasion when  munificence demonstrated by this developer has been anything other than to their own advantage beyond the initial 'flim-flam.'

In this case, I cannot imagine that it is anything other than to their own advantage to have the Medical Centre based front and centre on the land that they have developed at Whitianga. It will assist greatly in marketing the Waterways development in all its future iterations. This regardless of the need for a Medical Centre in Whitianga, and the fact that this facility may well be the 'bee's knees.'

But once again, we are not permitted to know what is in the Agreement with the Council until it has been signed off when we as rate-payers will be committed, and don't imagine for one moment that the costs incurred will fall exclusively on Mercury Bay rate-payers - that is simply not how it works when Council becomes involved in projects of this nature.

But it is the manner in which we are treated as idiots by this Council as exemplified in this and the previous post that rankles. All those involved should have their credentials closely examined leading up the Election. But of course that won't happen - we are in the season of great announcements designed to enhance the prospects of all those who are in the Mayoral cohort. Does that ring a bell?



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Reader Comments (5)

After constantly being told the Community Board meetings were the place to bring concerns I attended a meeting last year to discuss several such matters, one of which was the Medical Centre. As example I mentioned what had happened in Townsville when their medical centre was taken out of the had a detrimental affect on the businesses in the town centre and the community. This discussion was taken over by the Mayor and not recorded in the minutes.I left the meeting followed by the Mayor and CEO who was a witness to hear the Mayor tell me he "wished me dead so he could spit on my grave". I must have struck a nerve.

June 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBill Muir

That is absolutely disgraceful behaviour from the Mayor and new CEO to bully you Bill Muir.

June 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterInsider observer

The thing to bear in mind is that Whitianga Waterways have obtained a consent for and want to build a huge big retirement village on their land.

For the retirement village to work as a realistic development proposition, it needs to have medical facilities of a certain standard that do not currently exist. They also want those medical facilities effectively 'on site' as that can be used integrally as an effective marketing tool for the sale of retirement village units, which will be sold not as freehold titles but as a 'right to occupy' (that is where the real money lies in the retirement game as you can keep selling a new property many times over constantly reaping a new profit).

To make it work on site they also need to move all the medical professionals there, both existing and future (the scope of the facility could be expected to increase dramatically once the retirement village is up and running and employ many more doctors and nurses).

The cost of building a new medical facility will not be cheap. One could expect its cost to be many times (maybe 10 x) greater than the cost of the land. So if Hoppers can get their new medical facility built only for the cost of donating their land then they have made a very good business transaction. That transaction would become even more profitable if they have managed to persuade the Council to 'trade off'' Development Contributions for the land as they did with the sports ground land.

Also, to build the medical facility one must get 'buy in' and eventually money from the health sector who could be expected to pay for a fair bit of it. That requires the obtaining all sorts of specialist reports about what facilities may be required, the use of specialist planners - and the use of lawyers etc. etc. That cost and aggravation will now fall on the community and in particular the Council, rather than Whitianga Waterways.

All in all it sounds like another good day at the office for Whitianga Waterways due to them landing even another sucker punch landed on the Council!

Chris Lux will be chuckling. He need not feel so lonely anymore.

June 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterA bemused spectator


June 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBill Muir

In regard to the comment from "A bemused spectator" - he/she is quite correct - WW sought an obtained a Consent based on the a plan that includsd a Medical Centre. In other words, it was always to be their responsibility to build the center and provide the facilities for the occupants of their development. It is only over recent times that they have managed in their inimitable style to shed the responsibility on to the community by the simple and much cheaper expedient of 'providing' the land.

Now the Council is being 'hit up' for an iniitial $250,000 to cover all the immediate costs, and will no doubt be required to cover a great deal more as time goes on. This is not a good deal for rate-payers as claimed by Leach and his cohort on Council - it is an abrogation o WW's responsibility achieved in exactly bthe same manner as was achieved in regard to the Sport's Ground - in that case the Ground was supposed to have been provided in exchange for cancelled Development Contributions as stated by the commentator.

Further, it is not Council's responsibility in any manner to provide or even partly provide these facilities - it is the responsibility of the Waikato Health Board as it was right here at the outset in Thames and elsewhere. Generally, trusts are formed to complete the task by seeking funding contributions from all possible sources - including normal bank finance, and then to lease rooms to the professionals that require them. The Trust can then continue, or in time sell the entire facility to permanent occupants, pay off the loans and go out existence - that pattern has been followed in a number of communities, including Martinborough by way of example.

In this case, rate-payers have been literally 'screwed' by a Mayor anxious to again curry favour with one of his principle supporters, along with incompetent Councillors who have led by the nose once more. They have now been able to obtain favourable pre-election publicity in the age-old manner, and Waterway's get a great deal enabling them to immeasurably enhance their offering to potential purchasers.

When will we ever learn?

June 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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